One Year Ago

As finals week is coming to an end and Christmas break is just around the corner, I suddenly miss my life in South Korea. Thoughts of Korea fill my thoughts when I’m tired of studying. Although university life in Korea is about the same as life here at OU, I felt happier and more excited to finish the school year there. Maybe it was because I was going back to the United States for the winter or maybe because I was so stressed with school that I just wanted to be done. Either way, I was happy when school finally ended.
But, with the end of school and me returning home came goodbyes that I didn’t want to say. I didn’t make a lot of friends during my fall semester at SNU, but I had become close with those who lived in my hostel. From my Korean mom and dad to my French sister Mandy and Malaysian sister, Hui, I didn’t want to say goodbye because I was unsure if I would see them again. It was especially hard saying goodbye to Hui as she was also going back to her country. Since I was coming back to Korea in February, I would see my Korean parents again, but with her, I was unsure when we would meet again. That goodbye was hard, but I promised her that when I was done with spring semester, I would visit her in Malaysia. And, I did. We had lots of fun catching up and doing our favorite thing together, eating! Now, although she is in Australia, I still contact her from time to time to see how she’s doing.

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Mandy, Hui, and I eating at Gwangjang Market!

It’s amazing to me how quickly time flies. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, I was in a different country living a very different life. It was colder and windier, but I still went out every day to explore and to meet my friends. I miss Korea a lot and I hope to be back soon. I want to go for vacation rather than study because I can fully enjoy my time without worrying about grades.

Talk with the Consul of Indonesia

I have a strong interest in Southeast Asia, which seems to be an area that is not that covered in International Studies at OU. So, when I saw that there would be a talk with the Consul of Indonesia, I was very excited.

After getting free lunch, which is always a nice part of attending these events, I turned my attention to the Consul. She started with a quiz about Indonesia and those who answered correctly received a prize. Although I didn’t get any of the prizes, through the quiz I was able to learn a little about Indonesia. After this, the Consul started her presentation and began with basic facts about Indonesia. Then, she moved on to talk about Indonesia in relation to the United States. Through this, she hoped to create a better understanding of their relations and how they could improve and grow.

This lecture was interesting to me because I was able to learn about Indonesia, from its history to its current state in the world. I hope that OU will be able to offer more classes on Southeast Asian countries because it seems like many people are also interested in learning more about this region of the world.

International Game Night

Near the beginning of the year, the College of International Studies holds an International Game Night to welcome international students to OU as well as allows American students to meet some of these international students. I invited my NISO students and was excited to see some of them at the event. There were also many other students I hadn’t met, whom I tried to befriend.
There were lots of snacks and many games. I played Pictionary with 3 international students and 2 American students. And needless to say, it was hard! As someone who has no artistic talent, I found myself struggling both to draw and guess the answer. But nevertheless, we all had fun. After playing a few rounds of Pictionary, we moved on to a card game. One of the International students was from Africa and taught us a game from his country. I don’t remember what it was call, but it was very close to Slap Jack. Basically it is a game of speed and agility. Everyone has the same number of cards and at the same time flip over a card. If two cards match in number, then someone can slap and they will get all the cards on the table. The objective of the game is to get all the cards. I was a lot better at this game than Pictionary, and everyone seemed to have more fun playing this game.
This event was really fun and allowed me to get to know more international students. I will definitely participate again in the next game night.

DACA

Although I am an immigrant myself, I realize that I am someone that came to America with privileges. I had paperwork and a green card, and after being in the US for a few years, my dad became naturalized and so did I. So I lived all my life in America without a single worry other than getting good grades and a good job.

However, there are many people in America that are not as privileged as I am. In particular, my friends at work are undocumented immigrants. They talk about not being able to get a driver’s license and financial aid for college. And, even the little things like always fearing that they could be turned into the authorities and be deported. They finally got a sense of relief when DACA was announced. Now, they could finally get a license and, although they do not qualify for the Pell Grant, they don’t have to worry about being forced to go home.

When I heard that DACA was being rescinded, I thought about my friends and what this meant for them. As people who have been in my life for a while, I was worried for their future. I did not want any of them to have to leave their life in America. One of them is in nursing school and is getting ready to graduate. And the other is pregnant and starting her little family here. It breaks my heart to think that they could both have to leave their lives here and go to a place that has been unknown to them for decades. All of their hard work and social ties would have gone to waste all because they don’t have papers. Their parents saw no future in Mexico and wanted a better life for their children when deciding to move to the US. DACA, to them, was a light at the end of the tunnel. Rather than kicking them out, I think there needs to be a way to deal with them ethnically. Also, rather than building a wall and trying to keep Latin Americans out of the US, we need to look at why they are risking everything by trying to come to America. By understanding their situation, the US could see a decrease in illegal immigration.

NISO Peer Mentor

As you may know from reading my other blog posts, I was in South Korea for study aboard for an academic year. While I was there, I learned a great amount about South Korea, the world, and even more about myself. However, I often felt alone and lost as I did not know anyone in the country. My school was also not very helpful because the international student club cost money and was very centered around partying and drinking. Luckily, I made some friends after a few weeks of class and they were able to answer questions I had. I was very appreciative of these friends as they helped me through a lot
And so, I decided that I also want to be that friend. In the summer, I applied to be a NISO peer mentor, in which I have a group of international students that can connect me for help or just to hang out. I was very excited to apply and become a peer mentor because it felt like it was my way of repaying back the kindness I received in Korea. I was accepted and I attended the Crimson Connection day with much excitement. There, I met my group of students. They were from all over the world. There was a girl from England, a boy from Germany, a few from Africa, and a graduate student from South Korea. I was very happy to have a diverse group of students and potentially friends that I could hang out. One thing really enjoyed about being in Korea was the amount of international people I met, and so joining NISO allowed me to feel that way again. I will try my best this semester to become good friends with them as I really want to make connections that are worldwide.

Pohang and Yeosu

In Korea, the beginning of May holds two important holidays, Buddha’s birthday and Children’s day. Both of these days means everyone gets a break from work and from school.

I decided to use this break to go to Daegu and visit Sara as well as travel to Yeosu with her. At first we had planned to go to Suncheon and Yeosu, both famous for their scenic views and yummy foods. However, we did not expect that there might be tons of other people who wanted to do what we were planning to do and so bus tickets and accommodations for Suncheon were all booked. We had to make the executive decision to just go to Yeosu and spent our extra day in Pohang, a city off the southeastern coast of Korea.

The Pohang trip was kind of a disappointment as we weren’t able to do what we had wanted which was BoGyeongSa, a temple with waterfalls. We arrived in Pohang to find that the buses did not run very often and so we waited an hour for a bus that never showed up. We had to abandon our plans and headed towards the beaches instead. The first beach we went to was Songdo haesuyukjang. It was very unimpressive to be quite honest. There wasn’t very many people and not a very nice view.

However, the second beach we went to was much better. Yeongildae Beach is one of the more well known beaches in Pohang, and we immediately saw why. The atmosphere of this beach was more lively as there were families playing in the sand.

We took off our shoes and walked along the coast. It was a refreshing feeling being able to dig our toes in the sand and let the water wash it away. It was also very nice watching children jump around and enjoying themselves in the water. Although the Pohang trip started out disappointingly, it ended with a nice and relaxing walk along the beach.

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Yeongildae Beach’s Pagoda

The next day Sara and I boarded another bus bound for Yeosu. which is located on the southern coast. The trip took about three hours but we slept through most of it. Once we got there, we took a taxi to a little restaurant we had read about online. It is called 꽃담 (ggot dam) which I believe translates to flower murals. The restaurant served a healthy rice dish with lots of vegetables. Not only was the meal delicious, it was very visually appealing.

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After eating, we decided to go to Odongdo, which is a small island connected to Yeosu by a bridge. The island was so beautiful. We walked around the rocky coast taking many pictures. There was so much to see and do. We spent about 3 hours walking around and then decided to head back to the mainland to ride the cable car. After waiting in line for about an hour, we got into a cable car and it ascended across Yeosu. The view from above was just as magnificent as it was on land. It was definitely worth the wait!

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We finally ended the day with dinner at an outdoor restaurant. We had stir-fried eel and a seafood pancake. Both items were delicious and was a great end to the fun day.

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Lots of people eating at the outside restaurants
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Stir-fried eel and seafood pancake

I would recommend Yeosu to anyone who is going to Korea, either for study aboard or just a vacation. It is a beautiful place surrounded by nature and wonderful sights. There is a lot of delicious food in Yeosu and many activities to enjoy. Odongdo especially is a place I would recommend for scenic nature views.

Cherry Blossom Season

봄봄봄이 왔네요~ (Spring, spring, spring is here~)

봄봄봄 (Spring, spring, spring) by Roy Kim is one of two very popular songs in Korea during this time of year. It is a fun and light hearted song that describes the beginning of spring and remember meeting someone for the first time.

This song is very fitting for the spring season because it invokes a happiness and excitement that was masked by the cold winter. In the music video, there are scenes of cherry blossoms, which are everywhere in Korea, There are designated places, such as the Han River and Jamsil Lake, where couples, families, and just about everyone goes to take pictures. Because the cherry blossoms only last for about two weeks or so, these areas are always busy and packed with people. It is nice seeing everyone dressed up getting ready to take pictures and enjoying the nice change in temperature and scenery.

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Even from SNU, there are plenty of cherry blossom trees planted and they give the campus a beautiful lively feel. It definitely makes walking to class more bearable. The spring has made me fall in love with Korea even more and it’s going to be so hard to say goodbye.

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Midterms and Plans

It is now the beginning of May. Back home, OU students are getting ready to take their finals and preparing for their summer vacations. But here in South Korea, I have just finished taking my midterms and doing projects. Although I am jealous of the OU students, I also remembered when winter break came around and I had two and a half months to sit around and do nothing.

With about 7 weeks left of school, it feels unreal that I will soon be leaving Korea permanently. I always knew that time flew, but everything seems to go by faster here. And so, I have decided to use my time wisely. I have plans to go not only to unexplored parts of Seoul, but all over the country. I will start my journey with a trip to Daegu to see Sara, and then together, she and I are heading to Yeosu, a city off the southern coast. We are both excited about going because we’ve heard great things about Yeosu. I’m excited to see the beach and have a break from the busy life of Seoul.

I’m looking forward to see Sara as well as see more parts of South Korea. After this trip, I wonder where I will go.

DREAMS DO COME TRUE

Saturday, 25 March 2017

If you know me or have read my other blog posts, you know that I am a big KPOP fan. In fact, it’s what made me start learning Korean and was one of the factors that led me to study aboard in South Korea. Being a long time KPOP dan, I have seen many groups debut and have fallen in and out of love with many of them. I’ve had my phases, just like everyone else. However, there is one group that I have followed from the beginning of their career. B.A.P, which stands for Best Absolute Perfect (cheesy name, I know), debuted in January of 2012 with “Warrior” as their title track. I was instantly attracted to their music which was hip hop but rougher and more exciting. From then, I followed them through their growth. I watched them experiment with new concepts and listened to them mature in their music style. I made it my dream to go see a B.A.P concert, whether it was in Korea or elsewhere.

And tonight, my dream came true! I bought tickets to see the start of their world tour, Party Baby. I was excited every day leading up to the concert as I knew I would have fun. And I did, indeed. Since it was my first concert ever, I was unsure what to do and where to go, but once it started I knew exactly when to sing along and when to scream at the top of my lungs. The concert lasted 2 hours, and I was standing the whole time. At times my legs and feet hurt, but that was quickly replaced with excitement from the music and performances.

I wish I remembered how many songs they performed and what they were, but I was just too overwhelmed by the fun atmosphere to take notice. We were not allowed to take pictures, but the rebel side of my broke the rules and secretly took some pictures, although they are very low quality. Better something than nothing right?

This was definitely a new and fun experience. I’m glad that I was able to see B.A.P perform at least once in my life. I’m glad that my first concert was of my favorite, and I’m glad that such a great group as B.A.P exists (wow hardcore fangirl much?? lol). I definitely will look for more opportunities to see them again!

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Ment

Daehyun, lead vocalist and my favorite member
Daehyun, lead vocalist and my favorite member
I bought a bag
I bought a bag

Return to Daegu

Last weekend, I decided to visit a good friend and fellow GEF, Sara Fisher, in Daegu. She is also doing an academic year aboard but in a different city. She has visited me a couple of times in Seoul, and so I thought I should go see her too.

After a three and a half hour bus ride, I arrived at her university, Kyungpook National University. I was here during the summer for the KNU Global Summer School program and I remembered the campus very well. I met her outside her dorm, and we greeted each other like long lost sisters. There was jumping and a little screaming. (It’s a good thing no one saw us…) Because I was feeling a little hungry, we decided to get coffee and bread at a place fittingly named ‘Coffee and Bread’. Afterwards, we chilled in her dorm room until we went for a quick round of karaoke before dinner. We had Korean barbecue, which is never bad. After walking around a little, we decided that we should both get some rest.

The next day we met for lunch. We had one of my favorite foods, ddeokbbokki which is spicy Korean rice cakes, After lunch, we had to go for coffee, and she took me to one of the cutest coffee shops. Although the interior was small, the coffee was amazing! I got a Strawberry Blooming Creme Latte, which to this day is the best latte I’ve ever had. It was very aesthetically pleasing and very delicious.

1000% would recommend
1000% would recommend

The rest of my visit flew by with more walking, talking, and eating. We told each other everything that had happened to us while we were apart and also shared many laughs. I had a great time visiting Sara, and I definitely will be back to Daegu to see her again!

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